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Green Building News

Dutch Firm Announces a New Kind of Wind Turbine

The developer of the wind turbine claims that it is more efficient and much quieter than designs now on the market

A new wind turbine from Holland. The photo shows two of the Liam F1 wind turbines developed by The Archimedes, a research company and manufacturer headquartered in Rotterdam.
Image Credit: The Archimedes

A Dutch company says it has developed a new type of residential wind turbine that is far quieter and more efficient than conventional designs.

The Liam F1 is a horizontal-axis turbine that uses a revolving collector in the shape of a nautilus seashell, rather than blades, to spin a generator.

The company behind the project is The Archimedes, which takes its name from the Greek mathematician credited with inventing a nautilus-like device for pumping water now called the Archimedes Screw.

According to the company’s website, the turbine can operate in wind speeds of between 4.5 and 78 miles per hour (from 2 to 35 meters per second).

It wasn’t clear from the company’s website what the rated capacity of the turbine is (it’s written mostly in Dutch), and the company didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking more information. But the website EnergyMatters.com reported that with an average wind speed of 11 mph, the turbine would produce between 1,180 and 1,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.

The company claims the 5-foot-diameter device turns with very little resistance and is “virtually silent.” A noise rating for the turbine wasn’t apparent at the website.

The website Gizmodo.com said the turbines would be priced at $5,400. Their availability in North America isn’t known.

Photovoltaic systems are usually a better investment

For purposes of comparison, $5,400 will pay for a photovoltaic (PV) system rated at 1,350 watts. Such a PV system would produce 1,969 kWh per year in Boulder, Colorado — significantly more energy than the high estimate provided by EnergyMatters.com for the Liam turbine installed at a site with an average wind speed of 11 mph. (It’s worth noting that a site with an average wind speed of 11 mph is very rare. Moreover, for a wind turbine to operate effectively, it must be mounted on a high tower; presumably, such a tower isn’t included in the quoted price of $5,400 for the Liam turbine.)

For more information on residential wind turbines, see Backyard Wind Turbines and Resisting the Allure of Small Wind Turbines.

Water turbines operating on the same principle

The Dutch firm may be unique in manufacturing a wind turbine with an Archimedes screw, but a company called New England Hydropower Company LLC builds and installs hydroelectric turbines of a similar design.

New England Hydropower, based in Beverly Farms, Mass., says its generators extract potential energy from “large blocks of slowly downward moving water” and aren’t harmful to fish.

5 Comments

  1. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #1

    The rated power of het beestje = 1.5kw max, 1.0kw nominal
    Look like they married the turbine to a 1.5kw generator sized optimize it's output at lower than gale-force winds while discarding any excess power beyond that when it's really howling:

    http://dearchimedes.com/pdf/Folder_Liam_molen_2014.pdf

    The key distinction from other turbine types is it's low cut-in speed (2m/sec, or about 4.5mph) and relative efficiency at low to mid wind speeds, and it's insensitivity to turbulence, which allows it to deliver at least some reasonable output when mounted on buildings (or even ground mounted).

    Like any small wind turbine it's still pretty much a "roof ornament" unless you live in a location with the wind resources. In the flat swamplands of NL, being downwind of the North Sea means you can pretty much count on average wind speeds over 2m/s anywhere in the country (and in most of the coastal areas MUCH higher than 2m/s). Looking at the power output plotted against wind speed it takes a fairly stiff 28mph to hit the nominal 1kw output, and at 13mph it's only delivering about 100 watts. If your local wind-speed near the ground averages ~10mph over the 8760 hours in a year you might get 1000 kwh /year out of it but if it averages over 15mph (which it might in some coastal or hilltop locations) you could be north of 2000kwh/annum.

    The energymatters.com's estimate 1180-1500kwh/annum is lifted directly from that spec sheet (with some rounding errors- 5.2m/s is 11.632 mph- they should have rounded up to 12mph, or called it ~11.5mph.).

    Noise-wise it looks to be about 50-60 dbA, which is hardly above the sound wind against your window, comparable to some home refrigerators.

  2. Shane Claflin | | #2

    wind turbines
    Cool Bio-Mimicry. Mother Nature always has the best designs.

  3. Eric Sandeen | | #3

    "Max 1500Wh?"
    I might be a bit too cynical, but I have a hard time putting faith in a turbine manufacturer who seems to confuse power (W) with energy (Wh)...

  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Response to Eric Sandeen
    Eric,
    On which document did you see a reference to "max 1500 Wh"?

  5. Eric Sandeen | | #5

    Response to Martin
    On the homepage http://dearchimedes.com/ there are rotating photos which have specs on the right-hand side; it's in there. Maybe I'm being unfair; maybe it got lost between the engineers and the web designers. For some reason I am immediately skeptical of radical new turbine designs; the web seems full of them, but the fields are not.

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